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John Németh – Love Me Tonight
East Side SlimBy East Side Slim

John Németh – Love Me Tonight
John Németh – Love Me Tonight – Blind Pig, 2009

Love Me Tonight is the newest CD from a major musical talent, Mr. John Németh. He just happens to possess amazing vocal range and flexibility, is a first-rate harp player and is still only in his early 30s. Nothing reinforces his possession of these talents more than the blues artists who have wanted to play with him. Junior Watson recruited Németh to sing in his band for a time, and appears as featured guitar player on 2 of Németh’s CD releases. Elvin Bishop plays guitar on 2 cuts on this album (Country Boy and Daughter of the Devil), and brought 2 members of his band along to provide background vocals. Elvin also tasked John with singing on 4 tracks on Bishop’s most recent studio CD, The Blues Rolls On (see the review for that CD on STLBlues.net). As if all of that wasn’t enough, Anson Funderburgh asked Németh to fill in for Sam Myers in the Rockets during the time Sam fell seriously ill. That gig lasted 2 years.

John Németh is originally from Boise, Idaho. He first started singing in church, and at 17 a friend exposed him to the blues via the music of Jr. Wells. Wells has been a major influence on John ever since, with John saying “I had never heard anything like it. I listened to that song (Snatch It Back and Hold It) and the record Hoodoo Man Blues for hours”. While still in his late teens, Németh and his friends formed the band Fat John & The 3 Slims, quickly becoming fan favorites in the Boise area. John independently released his 1st CD under his own name, titled The Jack of Harps, in 2002. Eventually, he moved away from Boise, arriving in San Francisco in 2004. From there, he independently released another CD, called Come and Get It, featuring Junior Watson and his band behind him (John). The San Fran-based label Blind Pig signed Németh to a deal, resulting in the 2007 album Magic Touch (produced by Funderburgh and featuring Watson on guitar), and in the CD being reviewed here – Love Me Tonight.

The Songs: (all songs by John Németh unless otherwise specified)

1. Love Me Tonight
--The title track of the CD, this cut kicks off the proceedings with a high-powered R&B raver. Think of some of Joe Tex’s up-tempo groovers and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what’s going on. John belts out the vocals with amazing power, and the band keeps everything firing on 8 cylinders – all cash, no clunker!

2. Just Like You
--This song rides an irresistible groove set up by drummer June Core and the bass player (either Dmitry Gorodetsky or Kedar Roy; not specified in the notes). The guys take the best of up-tempo ‘60s classic soul, wrap it up in a thick layer of blues grit, and come away with a killer track.

3. Fuel For Your Fire
--Németh slows things down here. The short intro features acoustic harp, and then the tune rolls into a nice soul ballad. The tempo and style of the tune allows John to show off a little on vocals, putting his control of dynamics and tone on full display without resorting to simply belting it out at top volume. The man can sing folks, there’s no doubt about it. John throws a little more harmonica into the mix later in the song, but the spotlight is definitely on his voice here, not his harp.

4. Too Good To Be True
--This cut is a mid-to-up-tempo bluesy country-soul tune. It features Bobby Welsh’s guitar work, background singers, and of course, Németh’s vocals. Welsh picks and chords some fine bluesy-countrified guitar here. He’s understated throughout the CD, knowing it is Németh’s show, but his tone and playing are impeccable and hugely important to how this CD sounds.

5. Daughter Of The Devil
--The boys are throwing a downhome, juke-influenced blues at ‘cha here and it sounds fine. John plays some nice amplified harp on this cut; he really is a talented harp player. (Note: let’s hope he doesn’t make blowing harp on his recordings an afterthought as some other notable singers have: ie Salgado and Nullisch, although Darrell did play a lot of great harp on his last release, which was a back-to-the-blues effort – Goin’ Back to Dallas.) This track kind of reminds me of what you might get if you mixed a couple parts James Harman with a pinch or two of early Fabulous Thunderbirds; funky, greasy and fine.

6. My Troubled Mind
--Wow. That’s really all you need to know about this song, but I’ll provide a little more. WOW! If you’ve heard the buzz about Németh’s vocal abilities and want to find out what it’s all about, put this track on and listen. Wow… It’s another country-soul type tune, a really nice mid-tempo number, the kind of thing you heard a lot of in the late ‘60s coming out of Muscle Shoals. Németh’s voice has a wonderful horn-like quality to it; I wonder what he would sound like fronting a horn section…

7. Where You Been
--John brings the harmonica out in this tune, the chromatic harmonica that is. This is a mid-tempo shuffle with a slightly funky feel, and John’s Jr. Wells influences are showing – although Well’s never played chromatic quite like this.

8. She’s My Heart’s Desire – (Willie & Marium Scholfield)
--This is likely the best Robert Ward tune ever that wasn’t written by Robert Ward. Bobby Welsh is using that watery-echo sound so preferred by Ward (Ward achieved his via Magnatone amps; I’m not sure how Welsh got there.) The song could also fit comfortably into the catalog of The “5” Royales, with tough guitar work (Lowman Pauling was The Man!) married to church-infused lead vocals and doo-wop inspired backing vocals. This song features another tour-de-force vocal performance from Németh.

9. Love Gone Crazy
--This is closer to straight blues than a lot of the tunes heard so far on this CD. John plays some nice harp lines with great tone and phrasing, and June Core works some magic on the drums. Bobby Welsh is given some solo space, and he takes full advantage of it with a short, tight, tough solo. This is a cool tune, one that is a little more understated than some of the tracks on the CD, but one which will grab your attention more tightly with every listen.

10. Country Boy
--Here’s another straight blues; it’s a tough Chicago-styled shuffle, full of attitude and feel. Németh plays Chicago-styled harp here, and does it well, and Welsh lays some nasty-toned guitar on us. I think Jr. Wells is smiling somewhere...

11. Blues In My Heart
--This is a deep, slow blues tune, ending the CD in magnificent fashion. This thing sounds like something Jr. Wells and Buddy Guy forgot to record during Jr.’s Hoodoo Man Blues sessions. Németh captures Buddy Guy’s “crying”, tortured vocal sound amazingly well without sounding exactly like Buddy, and also treats us to a fantastic chromatic harp solo, reminding us that he’s not only an exceptional vocalist but is an exceptional musician as well.

The Verdict:

John Németh has been touted as “the next big thing” for a couple years now in the blues world. To quote Junior Watson, “When John’s band opened for mine, I knew instantly that he had a great talent. His voice is a national treasure”. Junior has played with just about everyone over the years, so that is heady praise, indeed. Another mark of excellence is the fact that the voice you hear on this CD is exactly the one you will hear at one of his live shows; no studio gimmicks needed or used. It’s all John. If you ever get down to the Blues City Deli in St. Louis, ask Vinnie what he thinks of Mr. Németh. My guess is that Vinnie will break out a mile-wide grin.

With this CD, Love Me Tonight, John has made sure that the touting is over – Németh has arrived at the top of the heap with a fantastic release. This CD is of the type of quality that entire careers can be judged by; yes, it really is that good. John touches all bases here stylistically: a few straight blues tunes, some early rock ‘n’ roll, Memphis styled soul/R&B and country-soul. Shoot, I probably even forgot one or two. The trick with this sort of eclecticism can by tying all the music together as a whole. Well, not to worry; everything flows seamlessly together, with nothing jarring you or seeming to be out of place – it all feels so natural and so easy you can’t believe the album is over when the CD stops spinning. The CD was produced by Németh and Kid Anderson, and was recorded and mixed by Anderson, who is a master at achieving amazing retro-but-yet-modern sounds (Kid is currently working as the new guitar player with Rick Estrin & The Nightcats.) The press Németh has received for this CD has been uniformly outstanding and well-deserved; you’re looking at an album-of-the-year candidate here for sure. Let’s rate this bad boy, although by this point it’s a foregone conclusion - STLBluesometer rating of 5.00 for Love Me Tonight.

For more information concerning John Németh, visit the following websites:
www.blindpigrecords.com --there’s a great bio of John on this Blind Pig webpage.

Lee Howland - aka "East Side Slim"
The STLBluesometer

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